By Lori Tyler
I love to sing hymns and songs of praise on Sunday morning. Sitting in a beautiful sanctuary with my family and friends, I am drawn into worship. However, how fervent and majestic is my worship on Monday morning when the alarm rings at 6:00 am? Do I live a life of praise when I am stuck in traffic or rushing to another appointment? Most of all, how am I doing with praise in my home? What response to God does my family see when I am lamenting about the dirty laundry or the sink full of dirty dishes?
I was struck by the words in the last two verses of Psalm 22. The psalmist ends with these words, “Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn. He has done it!” Amazing! My genuine and continual praise to God will be a testimony and influence in the future as well.
As I demonstrate a life of praise to my boys, Benjamin and Luke, they will learn to live their Christian life in the same way. And in turn they will teach their children and generations to come.
But praise and adoration of God does not always come quickly or easily. Often, my first response to difficult situations is to complain. It is fun to vent and feels good. But I have learned that complaining is contagious and springs from a heart of ingratitude.
One way to overcome grumbling is to cultivate a thankful spirit. I have so much to be thankful for and I want my entire life to be an offering of heart felt worship. I want to say “no” to complaining and instead take my complaints and frustrations to the Lord. He is the only one who is able to answer and help. He has not despised my suffering nor hidden His face from me.
Only when I live a life of gratitude for all God has done for me can I find those words and actions of praise no matter what circumstance I am facing. It is my prayer that my gratitude and praise will be reflected in the lives of my children and family.
By Mike Neely
This portion of Psalm 22 instructs those that “fear the Lord (to) praise him”. It also reminds us that “dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations.”
As we prepare during this Lenten season to celebrate Easter– the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus– we should reflect on the majesty and glory of God. In spite of world conditions of chaos, persecution, war and uncertainty, the Lord “rules over the nations”. God cares about every detail of our lives.
I heard a story on the radio this past Saturday on KLOVE which really touched me. It is an amazing story of God’s caring for details and of his love. Operation Christmas Child distributes millions of shoe boxes at Christmas time to children all over the world. A young girl in Mexico, about twelve years old or so, was waiting to receive a shoe box. Each time a box for her age group was unpacked, it was given to another child. It was uncertain if she would receive a box or not. Finally, the last box was for her age group and it was given to her. She opened the box joyfully and looked inside and began to weep. A translator came over to her and asked her if something was wrong. The young girl had found a picture in the box of a girl and a boy. She was crying because she knew this girl and her brother as she used to live in Birmingham, Alabama before moving to Mexico to take care of a relative that was ill. This girl was her friend who she had not expected to see again. Out of the millions of shoe boxes that were distributed, God appointed this box to be given to her.
God is truly worthy of our praise and honor. As we prepare during this Lenten season for Easter, let us remember to praise and honor God in everything that we do.
By Ellen Di Giosia
In this season of Lent, we are reflecting on God’s promises fulfilled in the stories of scripture. From God’s creation of humankind, through the preservation of Noah and his family, leading into promises made to Abram and Sarai, God is always working to create a new reality – one that includes a people who listen to God’s words and obey and who share the stories of faith through all generations.
When we read the Psalms today, we often think of them as words of private devotion. But they were also words of communal worship. They remind the people of God’s protection and compassion, God’s majesty and presence in their lives. Likewise, we often think of Lent as a time of deep interior soul work. We take on new spiritual practices, we make sacrifices to help us identify with Jesus’ suffering, and we spend time reading scripture and praying. But Lent can also be intensely communal. It helps us to gather together and hear what God is saying. We encourage one another in the practices we have developed and teach each other the things we are learning.
Talking with our children is one great privilege of my ministry at Woodland, because the Hebrew scriptures repeat it over and over: Teach this to your children, preserve it for future generations, walk alongside them and tell them what God has done. So during this time, I tell them that Lent is a time to get ready. Easter is a big mystery and a big celebration. It takes time to get ready for an event like this, to prepare our minds to ponder something so miraculous and prepare our hearts to receive such a gift.
Lent can sometimes feel like a sad time for children, so this psalm is particularly appropriate. God has not hidden his face from the one who needs help, and God promises that the poor will receive what they need. This is a song of celebration and comfort. And as verse 30 says, we will tell our children again and again that God is near.
By Lance Mayes
Take a moment to slowly read Psalm 77. Click on the link to open it online.
Have you ever had a really bad day? or a bad week? month? year? Ever feel like God is nowhere to be found? You are not alone. The Psalmist is in deep despair. Jesus can relate as well (Matthew 27:46).
The Psalmist is crying out and hears nothing. He is remembering what God has done in the past and yet now sees no signs of God’s love or compassion. The reflection continues, and he is remembering God’s mighty deeds especially the redemption from Egypt. Finally, he joyfully celebrates the greatness of God.
Pause a moment and remember. Remember God’s love and compassion to you in the past. Remember how God has redeemed you. Remember who God is and all that God has done for you.
Remember you are not alone. Not only is God with you, but others are on the same path. They may be crying out to God and can’t find God. They need a friend who will be “God with skin on.” They need you to be the presence of Christ to help them find their way. They need to hear your story of God’s love, compassion and redemption shown to you.
Who is wandering around that you can help today?
By Bridgette Langford
It is so easy to get sucked into the world around us. There is a certain routine that life has. We often forget to stop and thank the Lord for the extra boost of energy and the strength to accomplish the daily task when we feel like giving up. Just as the Psalmist writes “you hold my eyelids open,” I know I have been in that situation with my daily routine of being a wife and grad student.
I am guilty of not taking the time to stop and thank the Lord for the extra push. I believe the Lord does this sometimes without us even asking, because he knows us inside and out. Just as he knows how much we can handle, he will provide the strength needed to finish the project that is set in front of us. With God we can overcome all things.
As we are reflecting on what the Lord has done for us it is important for us to thank him for his faithfulness in providing the strength and encouragement we need for our daily life, even when we feel like we do not deserve it. Today thank the Lord for his influence in your life. Thank him for paying the ultimate price so you don’t have to suffer the way he did. Thank him for loving you.
By Christie L. Goodman
A plethora of research in recent years has confirmed the value of family meal time – adult and child sharing a meal together around the table conversing with one another. The benefits range from improved nutrition and reduced risky behaviors to improved school grades and stronger self-esteem (Purdue University). And for some, promoting family dinner time has become their clarion call.
Moreover, there is an even deeper bonus: family meal time can improve family communication, strengthen family ties and create a greater sense of identity and belonging. The key, researchers say, is that this is when families share stories – stories of their day and their dreams, people they encounter, who said what to whom, and those priceless tales of the past.
Just this last few weeks at the dinner table, we’ve told our daughters stories of our own childhood friends, family travels, what high school was like, how we dealt with a bully, the first week of their birth, how stressed out my band directors were at contest time too, what driver’s ed was like, how we picked out our wedding rings, and a few childhood exploits of our own parents, etc., etc., etc.
And when their grandparents visited recently, there were even more stories, sometimes remembered differently, refined and retold.
Researchers explain that such family storytelling gives us a sense that we are part of a larger family narrative. “Kids who understand that they come from that kind of a family know that when they hit their own hardships, which are inevitable, that they can push through, they can do it.” (Clark, 2013)
Dr. Anne Fishel explains: “What makes family stories so powerful is that they transmit the idea to children that they are part of something bigger than themselves, and that their identity extends to previous generations. Having what some researchers call ‘the intergenerational self’ expands the universe of stories that can inspire dreams or hint at different paths and at possibilities that one’s own limited life experience doesn’t yet contain.” (2013)
It is that generational history that the writer of Psalm 77 is clinging to. In his distress, he “remembers” the Lord’s “miracles” and “mighty deeds.” He “remembers,” in great detail and imagery, the great parting of the sea. “Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen. You led your people like a flock.”
But he wasn’t there himself. This was not his own personal experience. His is not an eye witness account. No, this was his generational experience. The story had been passed down from father to son, mother to daughter, like a great treasure. It is a part of him.
And he is renewed.
During this Lenten season, let us be renewed through remembering. We remember the parting sea, the angels harkening to the mere shepherd, the woman at the well, the feeding of the thousands, the empty tomb… Let us tell our family stories as we break bread together.
By Mike Elliot
“In you, Lord my God, I put my trust. I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame, but shame will come on those who are treacherous without cause.” Psalm 25:1-3
Being a college student, I am around people all day every day that are still figuring out who they are. They are often making mistakes, messing up, learning about themselves, and learning about how they want to function in the world. I like to include myself into this group. Often I find myself making mistakes, saying things I wish I could take back, and generally feeling like I have no idea what I’m doing.
I don’t know about all the other people my age, but whenever I encounter these situations I feel like I’ve let other people down, and it makes me feel embarrassed or ashamed. It’s hard to fight this natural feeling. I don’t need to feel this way. After all, the Bible tells us to not let our enemy triumph over us! Those feelings of shame do not come from God. They are coming from the enemy who is trying to beat us down, make us feel like we can’t do anything right. Make us feel like we aren’t really deserving of God’s love.
We are deserving of God’s love! He sent his own Son to die for us! To send his own son to die the most possible painful death. To bear the complete judgement for all of the sins of humanity, past, present, and future. That kind of unconditional love is impossible to comprehend.
Maybe it’s time for us to start putting all of that shame behind us, and accepting the love of God and casting off the burden that the devil is trying to put on us. By casting off that shame we will allow the light of Christ to shine through us to others, and in those situations where you may not think you can minister to anybody, your actions, attitude, and peace about you will show through and they will want that too!
This may seem like a daunting task, but verses 9-10 tell us that “He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful toward those who keep the demands of his covenant.”
We don’t need to worry ourselves with all the big picture details. If we keep the attitude of a humble servant, he will take care of the rest.
By Daniel Zamora
“Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways. He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful for those who keep the demands of his covenant.” Psalm 25: 8-10
I can still recall walking, many years ago, to the home of a student who lived in an undeveloped area in Mexico City’s outskirts. The entire area was made of up-and-down hills where farmers used to take their cattle through the many vacant lots. I was getting pretty desperate trying to find signs of the streets names not realizing that the road went downhill. My feet slipped and I landed in the cows’ restroom. That was the end of my day with a long and embarrassing return home.
In our daily walk, we find all sorts of roads and highways. Even with the most sophisticated GPSs, there is a good chance of error and unexpected detours. We certainly may experience significant delays or end being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Some even have gone the wrong way finding not only the end of a day but the end of their lives.
The Lord has created the most perfect network of ways for all of those who trust Him. Even if someone is lost, God provides an amazing step-by-step set of instructions to get out of there.
Do we believe Him? Or, are we still getting desperate trying to find our own way?
By Diana Bridges
Trust is in short supply among humans and many other earthlings. A case in point is my backyard birds. Regardless of my documented commitment to their well-being, they often eye me suspiciously when I’m glancing their way, and generally vacate the feeders by the patio as soon as I make even a quiet move in their direction. Likewise, my dogs, who got a rough start in life, are startled by wind, sudden movements, and the presence of anyone beyond the small number of family members they’ve vetted.
When it comes to trusting God, church folks have a great script. We sing about God’s great faithfulness, and his sovereignty over creation. We have read and maybe even memorized passages like this one, which speak eloquently about the steadfast love of God. However, trust is often easier in a theoretical “big picture” way than when we’re dealing with troublesome specifics. Somehow, we trust God with the world, but not with the illness of a loved one, conflict at work, or forgiveness.
The psalmist reminds God—and, thus, himself—that he is indeed merciful and forgiving, in the same way as the writer of the following epitaph (found at Elgin Catherdral):
Here lie I, Martin Elginbrodde:
Have mercy on my soul, Lord God,
As I would do, were I Lord God
And You were Martin Elginbrodde. (Appleton: The Oxford Book of Prayer)
Our trust problem is rooted in the fact that we’ve sometimes made God, whose commitment to us is well documented, synonymous with life, which is capricious. It’s complicated by our tendency to equate care and rescue. We’ll know we are on the long path to recovery when we begin to note the presence of God in the midst of trying circumstances and when we find ourselves reminding God—and ourselves—of his faithfulness.
By Barbara Higdon
There are dozens of alphabet books for children that help to teach them their ABCs. Most feature a picture of something that starts with each letter of the alphabet or acrostic poems starting each line with a different letter.
Psalm 25, our Lenten reading for today, is an acrostic poem, the verses of which begin with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Think of it as the ABCs of a prayer for protection, guidance, forgiveness and deliverance. These acrostics were easier to memorize at a time when few people were literate, and they depended on oral sharing of Scripture and devotional thoughts.
Like children, we will always need instructions and the basic ABCs of following and trusting God. When the Psalmist (possibly David) begins this poem, he affirms his absolute trust in God because of who God is. God is “good and upright” and “loving and faithful.” It isn’t the petitioner who has these characteristics; it’s his God.
The psalmist is admittedly fearful, not just for his physical safety, but that he not be shamed by his enemies. Though we live in uncertain times, we probably fear that we’ll bring shame on ourselves more than we fear for our lives. Our pride can be a scary thing.
One of the hardest things for many of us to do is ask forgiveness. The psalmist begs that God forgive his youthful sins and forget his rebelliousness. Oh that our rebelliousness and sin were only confined to our youth!
He also asks for instruction—that God teach him His ways. That’s a school that never closes. We’re never too old to learn something about God’s path for us, and being teachable means
As modeled in this psalm, we reaffirm God’s character, ask for his forgiveness and pledge to continue learning about his loving ways. And we’re never past reviewing the ABCs of our faith.